Jakarta – BRIN Public Relations. Rike Yudianti, a researcher in the field of materials engineering from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), has successfully developed research on nanocellulose and nanocarbons -based nanocomposites as functional materials. Rike conducted this research based on her concern over environmental problems and limited energy resources that have become strategic issues recently.

Environmental problems have become a serious concern both nationally and internationally. One of environmental problems that has been widely discussed in Indonesia is large amount of plastic waste, which reach 64 million tons/year, of which 3.2 million tons are dumped into the sea, while 85 thousand tons are dumped on land.

The issue of plastic waste will continue to persist if there is no change in the form of human concern of the problem of plastic waste. One form of such concern can be in the form of utilization of environmentally friendly goods to support the needs of people’s daily life.

Another problem that is equally important is limited fossil energy as a source of electrical energy. It is even predicted that in 2033 the total production of domestic energy cannot meet domestic needs.

In her oration at her inauguration as Research Professor, Thursday (10/03), Rike said, nanocomposites are a material that is in great demand. Nanocomposite is an alternative material as a solution that has great potential as a functional material.

“Nanocellulose-based nanocomposites are in great demand because they are renewable, environmentally friendly, strong, and light raw materials,” said Rike.

Meanwhile, nanocarbon-based nanocomposites, said Rike, have the potential to produce more innovative and superior products. The intrinsic advantage of carbon nanotubes (CNT) is that they are able to produce unique characteristics such as electronic, optical, and magnetic properties that are not found in nanocellulose.

She is of the opinion that biocellulose has great potential to be used as environmentally friendly packaging as an effort to cope with the problem of plastic waste that cannot be degraded naturally. While CNT nanocomposite is a photocatalyst material and electrocatalyst support that can be used as a substitute for carbon black in polymer-based fuel cells.

Rike explained further that cellulose which contains nearly 40% of the mass of carbon is abundant and very valuable in meeting human needs. “Therefore, cellulose is considered an inexhaustible source of raw materials for the needs of human life as an environmentally friendly and biocompatible product,” she explained.

Meanwhile, CNT, she added, has the characteristics of higher electrical conductivity than copper, higher thermal conductivity than diamond, high temperature resistance, lighter than aluminium, adjustable electronic properties, hard and strong. CNT is expected to contribute to the development of nanotechnology and a breakthrough in the field of materials science.

“CNTs are increasingly being used as energy and environmental functional materials such as electrocatalysts, electrodes, photocatalysts, hydrogen storage, and others,” she continued.

The chance of using nanocellulose as part of the development of nanotechnology in Indonesia, continued Rike, is very high considering that Indonesia is one of countries with megabiodiversity in the world with its population of 270 million people.  This is as capital for developing natural resource-based nanotechnology. Indonesia’s abundant natural resources make this country merely as a supplier of raw materials with low value. The materials that have gone through a processing process provides added value and have high economic value.

“Therefore, the role of research and innovation for the development of process and processing technology is quite important,” she said.

Rike said that the development of nanocellulose and nano carbon-based nanocomposites has succeeded in making a significant contribution to the characteristics of nanocomposites as functional materials. Modification on the surface of nanocellulose and biocellulose shows the potential of nanocomposites to be used as alternative materials for environmentally friendly packaging.

“Through the right process technology, nanocarbon-based nanocomposites from CNT have indicated functional materials that function as electro-catalyst and photocatalyst material support,” she concluded (pur).